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  • Writer's pictureSensei Jay

Who’s Listening


March 13, 2021


We had two young women join our youth program. They are close friends. Welcome to our dojo.

What’s Happenin’

Wednesday, March 17 is St Patrick’s day. Come take my 7:00 class, wear green, any green.

Thursday, March 18, 7:00 pm. ASNJ is celebrating Women's History Month with a salute to the Women of Aikido. For this event, there will be no Tai Chi Chuan class; the dojo will belong to the Women of ASNJ. The class will be taught by our female Yudansha and is open to any female student ages 11 and up. Thanks to Annie and Vanessa for setting this up.

Saturday, March 27, 2:15 pm. Kyu tests. Please contact Danny, Derrell, or Frank to discuss if you want to test. Potluck social distanced party to follow tests.

Saturday April 5th, 11:30 - Kid’s test.

The (Real) Life of a Sensei

I wanted to share my Saturday. I arrived at 10am and with the help of an adorable 5-year-old student, we changed all the filters on the four Doug-a-lator 5000’s. We removed the old filters, vacuumed the dust and, again, with the help of my assistant sporting a fresh ponytail she had to show me, taped the new Merv-13 filters into place. First task under my belt, I moved on: I restocked the masks at the front desk and ordered more online. I refilled all the hand sanitizers around the dojo (it is amazing how much of that stuff we use: Classes stop four times so everyone can sanitize their hands and wrists before continuing). I ordered gis as we are out of a few sizes and with the influx of new students, I order often to keep up. We needed jos too, another order. I spent an hour paying USAF dues. I updated our schedule to add the new Yoga class. I paid some dojo bills (good thing to keep the lights on) and made half a dozen phone calls.

The life of a Sensei isn’t all hakamas and rainbows. We all work hard together to make the dojo run, whether sensei, yudansha, new member or 5-year-old with new pig tails. We are a community and that is our greatest strength.


Connie will be teaching a Yoga course Sundays at 4:30pm. This is open to any member and their family who are interested in Yoga. No prior experience necessary. If are interesting in trying something new or are an expert at Downward Dog (only posture I know. Impressed? I didn’t think so.), please come by and join the class. There is no charge.

Tai Chi Chuan

“If you are not listening as if what you hear can change your life, you are not really listening.” This is a quote from Alan Alda (The guy from M*A*S*H, when he was in an interview [ed. Note from Sensei Lehrman – sadly, I never met the guy. His loss] seen by Sensei Hal Lehrman who you may or may not know is also an actor, besides being the best real estate broker in NYC, Brooklyn Properties, for all your real estate needs (Sorry, we still must make a living. You think an Aikido dojo pays the bills?)). This was his advice for the skill needed to be a good actor. It makes perfect sense as a martial arts skill, where it can change your life, literally.

In Tai Chi Chuan class, we worked on Listening, but not with your ears. Last week I discussed following but never talked about how to do that. We do that by listening. Not for a sound but listening to what uke is doing, what they are thinking, what they are feeling. This listening happens inside. The Tao Te Ching talks of the ear behind the ear, the eye beneath the eye. These are the parts of you that receive the information your ears, eyes, etc. hear and see. The YOU on the inside that everything connects to: your center.

To truly hear what is going on, you need silence. To feel movement, you need stillness. Otherwise, noise or movement gets in the way. How do you get that? Have I ever mentioned Sensei’s Lehrman’s meditation Zoom class on Wednesday night? Seriously, it is called mediation, either sitting, standing, or moving. You find stillness. Inside. Relaxation. Now you hear, see, touch at the level for your martial arts to be effective, in the moment, existing in the now. I can keep throwing out catch phrases, but you get the idea.

We practice movement to find stillness. We listen to hear silence. We relax to feel. I spoke in the last letter about how Aikido can make you a better you, this is the practice. The skill of technique, the ability to defend, the grace of our movements are all of great value but not the final goal. Just accomplishment along the way of you being a better you. Listen.

Aikido Thoughts: Get Down

Great class this week. I think I will be doing this for a few weeks. We focused on Down. Not the goose-feather kind but the gravity kind. We did throws where you drop your weight and watch uke go ‘boom.’ It is both fun and shocking for uke. Cesar, who recently returned since Covid, was my uke for the class. Every time I did a technique and watched him hit the mat, he started laughing. Not a little ‘tee hee’ but a genuine LOL. He loved it and was cracking up. Every throw. That set the mood, it was a fun class. Who would have thought gravity could be so amusing.

--Sensei Jay

“Silence is the source of great strength.”

- Lao Tsu

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